By: Cesare Baccheschi
LAHORE: The Women’s Development Department, in the first week of July, launched an initiative to archive crimes against women in the province.
The archive will initially have information on three categories of crimes against women… gender based, domestic violence and acid attacks.
Women Development Department Secretary Irum Bukhari told The Express Tribune that documentation of these crimes would help the government understand the proportions and scope of the problem.
“We will only know once we have the precise data. The information would also help the authorities solve the problems, she said.
The archive could serve several purposes. Most importantly, it would help the department formulate policies to tackle women’s problems in a more efficient and effective way, said Bukhari.
Shirkat Gah-Women’s Resource Centre Advocacy and Communications Director Fauzia Viqar said that the statistics available at the moment were sketchy. “In most cases, crimes against women go unreported and there are several problems with the records,” she said.
She said that there was a need to reform police diaries and the system used to report cases of violence against women. The way data is collected does not capture the social, economic or psychological aspects of the crime. “Therefore, it is hard to appreciate the enormity of a problem,” she said.
Bukhari said that NGOs usually documented crimes through media reports. This method, she said, has a structural problem. “Newspapers do not cover all events,” she said.
She said that the police reported such crimes, but there is no standard method of collecting data and sharing it. “This leads to frequent discrepancies in data…rendering it useless,” said Bukhari.
Every report in the archive, she said, would assess the nature of the crime, location of occurrence, circumstances, number of people involved, the type of injuries; whether the case was sent to trial and what the outcomes were.
A statistical report based on quarterly police reports would be released each July, starting from 2013.
The creation of the archive is part of the Punjab Women Empowerment Package 2012, which aims to, “Provide ways and means to effectively safeguard women’s rights and… expanding opportunities available to them.”